In the video, Bethke talks about the difference between religion and the Christian faith. In short, Bethke puts into street language what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
One might think that all Christians would commend Bethke for using a video to promote Christianity, but if one thought that, then one would be wrong.
In his video, Bethke speaks against the kind of behavior displayed by the Pharisees of antiquity, a kind of behavior that is displayed by some modern-day people. At no time does Bethke equate modern-day Phariseeism with any particular church group. At no time does Bethke speak against liturgy and sacraments.
Sadly, some people are reading into Bethke’s words something that is not there. In particular, Bethke is being accused of creating an anti-Catholic video – something that Bethke’s video is definitely not. Indeed, Bethke’s rebuke of religion can easily be applied to Protestant churches. I would go so far as to say that Bethke’s comments are aimed at Protestant Christians.
[I could spend hours talking/writing about the Phariseeism that I have encountered in Protestant churches.]
Still, Bethke’s video is being used as an excuse for anti-Protestant commentary. In a blog post for Patheos.com, blogger Marc Barnes writes, ” I can’t help but think, in the midst of all this, that this hating-religion-loving-Jesus thing is the logical consequence of Protestantism. For a 21st-century Protestant looking at a thousand-something churches, I imagine there is an immense temptation to say “It’s all a wash. I will follow Christ, not a religion,” and be done with it. I empathize with him, knowing that if I were a Protestant I would be in full agreement: There is either one, true religion or there is no religion at all.”
In a commentary titled YouTube’s Modern Day Martin Luther Catholic priest Robert Barron uses Bethke’s video to rant against Martin Luther and Luther’s teachings.
Again, at no time in his video does Bethke talk about any particular part of the universal Church. All that Bethke does is promote Jesus. That fact is so clear that even Stevie Wonder can see it.
I applaud Jeff Bethke for making his video, because I believe what the Apostle Paul says in Ephesians 2:8-9. I also believe what the Apostle Paul says in Romans 10:9-10: “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”
In his video Jeff Bethke explains the Gospel in his own words. Bethke expresses what the Apostle Paul taught. Why any Christian would be opposed to all that is something that I do not understand.
What I do understand is that one’s eternal destiny does not depend on which church that one is a member of. I wish that Bethke’s Christian critics would figure that out.
[Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version, copyright ©2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.]